Let’s be real. The only reason you’d read this if you aren’t an INFJ is because you are my mom or my aunt. We know that narcissists wouldn’t read this series, so we’ll rule them out.
If anyone other than an INFJ stumbled upon this series, they’d be saying, “What were you thinking? Why did you put up with that? Why didn’t you leave sooner? Hell! Why did you marry him to begin with? Maybe you are the one with the problems. YOU are the one with the issues. Why would you lose yourself in a relationship like that?”
To the INFJs reading this, I don’t need to explain. You know why I stayed as long as I did.
You, dear INFJ, are here to find some sort of compassion or understanding or an explanation. You want to know that you aren’t the only person (please stop calling yourself a fool) who would put up with so much bullshit. You want to believe that there are people out there who care about relationships as deeply as you do.
You want to stop worrying that there is something wrong with you.
You’d like to quit reading the articles that say you shouldn’t lose yourself in a relationship. You know that already! You aren’t walking around announcing to the world, “Hey! Pick me. I’d love nothing more than to make you the center of my whole universe. I’ll like what you like. I’ll eat what you eat. I’ll learn to love football and hiking and stock car racing. You name it! I’ll do it for you. I’ll do it for love!
But that’s what you do.
You might be on your seventh run. Maybe you’re divorced and starting over. Maybe you are a serial dater, and this time, you’re going to get it right. You’ve practiced saying the words, while driving to his house. Over and over again, while pushing your shopping cart around and filling it with his favorite foods you say to yourself, “I love you, but I love me, too. I don’t want to argue, but I do want to be present in this relationship without having to give up myself.”
You’ve practiced so much that you can say it without referring to your dog-eared index card. You have it memorized. You even remember to recite it with a genuine smile.
Only you never say it, because about the time it needs to be said, you’ve already started losing yourself. Again.
Somewhere in this time period, you read a link on Twitter about the INFJ personality type. The post says that’s what we do. We put relationships first. We put relationships before ourselves. And then you want to shout to the world, “See! It’s not my fault! I’m wired this way. Wouldn’t it be awesome if more folks were wired this way? Wouldn’t the world be something spectacular if people put relationships first, before their jobs or their addictions or their need to impress?” And then you close your laptop and look up to see him standing there with a look on his face that says, “Whatever you are doing right now is not about me. Stop doing that and tend to me.”
Instead of opening your laptop and resuming your reading, you jump to get him what he needs. You hurry to be what he wants you to be, and you leave your soul sitting at the table, wondering how this could have happened.
Your kids see you do this, too. You know they are watching you. In that self-deprecating way that you point out your failings, you tell them, “Don’t do what I do. Don’t lose yourself in a relationship. Bring all of yourself to a relationship, and if all of you isn’t celebrated and cherished then get the hell out!” They don’t ask you why you stay, because they know you. They know how you always put yourself last. Every day they see you relinquish your needs and desires. They know that things will have to get bad before you will give up and finally make the choice to leave. They also know that their definition of bad is different from yours.
They will wait. They will love you while they wait, even if they don’t understand. They will tell you that you deserve better. You will hug them and tell them you are sorry for putting them through this, all the while thinking, “Maybe I don’t deserve better. Maybe I did something to deserve this. Maybe if I tried harder, things would improve. Maybe it’s my job to make this right.”
One day, dear INFJ, you will learn that all that energy you put into the wrong relationships could just as easily be put into the right relationships.